Time to do away with ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ labels for industries in lockdown, coalition tells govt

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — All businesses are “essential” in making up a complete and diverse economy and unnecessary labels do not help improve businesses’ survivability, according to a trade group coalition.

In a virtual press conference today, Industries Unite co-founder Datuk David Gurupatham said it was time to discard the “essential” and “non-essential” labels placed on businesses and instead to employ targeted measures to reopen as many businesses as possible.

“Every industry is essential as it employs people and creates jobs.

“To truly recover and inject life into the economy, the Covid-19 battle must be targeted, locality by locality, building by building, district by district, state by state,” he said.

David said areas with high economic value should be prioritised for Covid-19 testing, contact tracing and vaccination — especially as testing kit prices “have come down tremendously”.

“Businesses should be allowed to operate with enhanced standard operating procedures (SOPs) in these areas.

“Allow people who are vaccinated and of low risk more freedom to move within these targeted areas, allow more businesses to open.

“Increase education and monitoring of these places. Allow businesses in these areas to open immediately,” he added.

David also highlighted that despite being deemed an essential economic sector, the food and beverage (F&B) industry is tanking and the ban on customers dining in needs to be lifted.a display in a store: A section selling stationery is cordoned off at a Mr DIY outlet amid MCO 3.0 June 7, 2021. — Picture by Choo Choy May© Provided by Malay Mail A section selling stationery is cordoned off at a Mr DIY outlet amid MCO 3.0 June 7, 2021. — Picture by Choo Choy May

He said that F&B operators are being forced to sell their products online, where they have almost no choice but to subscribe to the “two biggest food delivery apps” that charge an upwards of 30 per cent commission on the price of the food.

“So who benefits? The mom and pop shops and warungs end up essentially working for the delivery apps.

“Not to mention that these food shops are dealt a double whammy where the prices of raw materials have also increased,” he added.

A “total lockdown” under the third movement control order (MCO 3.0) was initiated on June 1, and required most businesses — except for those deemed “essential” by the government — to close their premises.

Under the government’s National Recovery Plan, most businesses and economic sectors will only be allowed to reopen in the third phase of the plan, after daily new Covid-19 cases drop below the 2,000 mark and 40 per cent of the Malaysian population has received Covid-19 vaccination.

This government expects this to happen no sooner than September. – MALAY MAIL

by Keertan Ayamany

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